Affirmative action programs have significantly changed American medicine for the better, not only in medical school admissions and access to postgraduate training but also in bringing a higher quality of health care to all people. James L. Curtis approaches this important transition from historical, statistical, and personal perspectives. He tells how over the course of his medical education and career as a psychiatrist and professor--often as the first or only African American in his cohort--the status of minorities in the medical professions grew from a tiny percentage to a far more equitable representation of the American population.
Advancing arguments from his earlier book, Blacks, Medical Schools, and Society, Curtis evaluates the outcomes of affirmative action efforts over the past thirty years. He describes formidable barriers to minority access to medical-education opportunities and the resulting problems faced by minority patients in receiving medical treatment. His progress report includes a review of two thousand minority students admitted to U.S. medical schools in 1969, following them through graduation and their careers, comparing them with the careers of two thousand of their nonminority peers. These samples provide an important look at medical schools that, while heralding dramatic progress in physician education and training opportunity, indicates much room for further improvement.
A basic hurdle continues to face African Americans and other minorities who are still confined to segregated neighborhoods and inferior school systems that stifle full scholastic development. Curtis urges us as a nation to develop all our human resources through an expansion of affirmative action programs, thus improving health care for everyone.
James L. Curtis is Clinical Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
In 2015, an unprecedented number of people from Africa and the Near East took flight and sought refuge in Europe. By the end of that year, some 1.8 million migrants had arrived in the EU, the vast majority having come across the Mediterranean. Since then, despite measures to host some of the people fleeing the Syrian war in Turkey and concurrent attempts to physically seal off some borders in Eastern Europe, the numbers of refugees traveling to Europe has continued to top half a million annually. A mass migration on a scale not witnessed in modern times is underway, and it has presented Europe with its greatest challenge of the twenty-first century.
Asfa-Wossen Asserate argues here that building higher fences or finding more effective methods of integration will only, in the long term, perpetuate rather than solve the problems associated with these large numbers of displaced refugees. We need to realize that we are only treating the symptoms of an oncoming catastrophe and that, if we are to respond to mass migration, we will ultimately have to understand its causes. African Exodus places its emphasis firmly on the causes of the refugee crisis, which are to be found not least in Europe itself, and charts ways in which we might deal with it effectively in the long term.
In the course of this analysis, Asserate asks why our view of Africa—a troubled continent, but rich in so many ways—is so distorted. How can we combat the corrupt, authoritarian regimes that stymie progress and development? Why are millions fleeing to Europe? How is the EU complicit in the migration crisis? And finally, in practical terms: what can be done, and what prospects does the future hold?
Throughout its long and often tumultuous history, “La Hispanola” has taken on various cultural identities to meet the expectations—and especially the demands—of those who governed it. The island shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti saw its first great shift with the arrival of Spanish colonists, who eliminated the indigenous population and established a pattern of indifference or hostility to diversity there. This enlightening book explores the Dominican Republic through the lens of its African descendants, beginning with the rise of the black slave trade in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century West Africa, and continuing on to slavery as it existed on the island. An engaging history that vividly details black life in the Dominican Republic, the book investigates the slave rebellions and evaluates the numerous contributions of black slaves to Dominican culture.
In recent years black South African music and dance have
become ever more popular in the West, where they are now
widely celebrated as expressions of opposition to
discrimination and repression. Less well known is the
rich history of these arts, which were shaped by several
generations of black artists and performers whose
struggles, visions, and aspirations did not differ fundamentally
from those of their present-day counterparts.
In five detailed case studies Veit Erlmann digs deep to expose the roots of the most important of these performance traditions. He relates the early history of isicathamiya, the a cappella vocal style made famous by Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
In two chapters on Durban between the World Wars he charts the evolution of Zulu music and dance, studying in depth the transformation of ingoma, a dance form popular among migrant workers since the 1930s. He goes on to
record the colorful life and influential work of Reuben T. Caluza,
South Africa's first black ragtime composer. And Erlmann's reconstruction of the 1890s concert tours of an Afro-American vocal group, Orpheus M. McAdoo and the Virginia Jubilee Singers, documents the earliest link between the African and American performance traditions.
Numerous eyewitness reports, musicians' personal testimonies, and song texts enrich Erlmann's narratives and demonstrate that black performance evolved in response to the growing economic and racial segmentation of South African
society. Early ragtime, ingoma, and isicathamiya enabled the black urban population to comment on their precarious social position and to symbolically construct a secure space within a rapidly changing political world.
Today, South African workers, artists, and youth continue to build upon this performance tradition in their struggle for freedom and democracy. The early performers portrayed by Erlmann were guiding lights—African stars—by which the present and future course of South Africa is being determined.
"Hellwig has made a remarkable contribution to the literature and study of comparative race relations."
--Anani Dzidzienyo, Afro-American Studies and Portuguese-Brazilian Studies, Brown University
At the turn of the twentieth century, the popular image of Brazil was that of a tropical utopia for people of color, and it was looked upon as a beacon of hope by African Americans. Reports of this racial paradise were affirmed by notable black observers until the middle of this century, when the myth began to be challenged by North American blacks whose attitudes were influenced by the civil rights movement and burgeoning black militancy. The debate continued and the myth of the racial paradise was eventually rejected as black Americans began to see the contradictions of Brazilian society as well as the dangers for people of color.
David Hellwig has assembled numerous observations of race relations in Brazil from the first decade of the century through the 1980s. Originally published in newspapers and magazines, the selected commentaries are written by a wide range of African-American scholars, journalists, and educators, and are addressed to a general audience.
Africans in the Old South
Randy J. Sparks Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress E185.615.S695 2016 | Dewey Decimal 305.896073075
The Atlantic slave trade was the largest forced migration in history, yet most of its stories are lost. Randy Sparks examines the few remaining reconstructed experiences of West Africans who lived in the South between 1740 and 1860. Their stories highlight the diversity of struggles that confronted every African who arrived on American shores.
Africans to Spanish America expands the diaspora framework to include Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, and Cuba, exploring the connections and disjunctures between colonial Latin America and the African diaspora in the Spanish empires. Analysis of the regions of Mexico and the Andes opens up new questions of community formation that incorporated Spanish legal strategies in secular and ecclesiastical institutions as well as articulations of multiple African identities. The volume is arranged around three sub-themes: identity construction in the Americas; the struggle by enslaved and free people to present themselves as civilized, Christian, and resistant to slavery; and issues of cultural exclusion and inclusion.
Contributors are Joan Cameron Bristol, Nancy E. van Deusen, Leo Garafalo, Herbert S. Klein, Charles Beatty Medina, Karen Y. Morrison, Rachel Sarah O'Toole, Frank "Trey" Proctor, and Michele B. Reid.
In Afro-Atlantic Flight Michelle D. Commander traces how post-civil rights Black American artists, intellectuals, and travelers envision literal and figurative flight back to Africa as a means by which to heal the dispossession caused by the slave trade. Through ethnographic, historical, literary, and filmic analyses, Commander shows the ways that cultural producers such as Octavia Butler, Thomas Allen Harris, and Saidiya Hartman engage with speculative thought about slavery, the spiritual realm, and Africa, thereby structuring the imaginary that propels future return flights. She goes on to examine Black Americans’ cultural heritage tourism in and migration to Ghana; Bahia, Brazil; and various sites of slavery in the US South to interrogate the ways that a cadre of actors produces “Africa” and contests master narratives. Compellingly, these material flights do not always satisfy Black Americans’ individualistic desires for homecoming and liberation, leading Commander to focus on the revolutionary possibilities inherent in psychic speculative returns and to argue for the development of a Pan-Africanist stance that works to more effectively address the contemporary resonances of slavery that exist across the Afro-Atlantic.
In this important new study, Sandro Sessarego provides a syntactic description of the Afro-Bolivian Spanish determiner phrase. Afro-Bolivian Spanish is one of the many Afro-Hispanic dialects spoken across Latin America and, from a theoretical point of view, is rich in constructions that would be considered ungrammatical in standard Spanish. Yet these constructions form the core grammar of these less-prestigious, but equally efficient, syntactic systems. Because of the wide variety of their usages, Sessarego’s study of these contact varieties is particularly valuable in developing and refining theories of syntactic microvariation.
This dialect presents phenomena that offer a real challenge to current linguistic theory. The Afro-Bolivian Spanish Determiner Phrase elaborates on the importance of enhancing a stronger dialogue between formal generative theory and sociolinguistic methodology, in line with recent work in the field of minimalist syntax. Sessarego’s study combines sociolinguistic techniques of data collection with generative models of data analysis to obtain more fine-grained, empirically testable generalizations.
Afrocentric Idea Revised
Molefi Asante Temple University Press, 1998 Library of Congress P94.5.A37A78 1998 | Dewey Decimal 909.0496
This new edition of The Afrocentric Idea boldly confronts the contemporary challenges that have been launched against Molefi Kete Asante's philosophical, social, and cultural theory. By rendering a critique of some post-modern positions as well as the old structured Eurocentric orientations discussed in the first edition, this new edition contains lively engagements with views expressed by Mary Lefkowitz, Paul Gilroy, and Cornel West. Expanding on his core ideas, Asante has cast The Afrocentric Idea in the tradition of provocative critiques of the established social order. This is a fresh and dynamic location of culture within the context of social change.
Indigenous people and African descendants in Latin America and the Caribbean have long been affected by a social hierarchy established by elites, through which some groups were racialized and others were normalized. Far from being “racial paradises” populated by an amalgamated “cosmic race” of mulattos and mestizos, Latin America and the Caribbean have long been sites of shifting exploitative strategies and ideologies, ranging from scientific racism and eugenics to the more sophisticated official denial of racism and ethnic difference. This book, among the first to focus on African descendants in the region, brings together diverse reflections from scholars, activists, and funding agency representatives working to end racism and promote human rights in the Americas. By focusing on the ways racism inhibits agency among African descendants and the ways African-descendant groups position themselves in order to overcome obstacles, this interdisciplinary book provides a multi-faceted analysis of one of the gravest contemporary problems in the Americas.
George Reid Andrews Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress F1419.N4A64 2016 | Dewey Decimal 305.80098
Two-thirds of Africans, both free and enslaved, who came to the Americas from 1500 to 1870 came to Spanish America and Brazil. Yet Afro-Latin Americans have been excluded from narratives of their hemisphere’s history. George Reid Andrews redresses this omission by making visible the lives and labors of black Latin Americans in the New World.
Tourists exult in Bahia, Brazil as a tropical paradise infused with the black population's one-of-a-kind vitality. But the alluring images of smiling black faces and dancing black bodies masks an ugly reality of anti-black authoritarian violence. Christen A. Smith argues that the dialectic of glorified representations of black bodies and subsequent state repression reinforces Brazil's racially hierarchal society. Interpreting the violence as both institutional and performative, Smith follows a grassroots movement and social protest theater troupe in their campaigns against racial violence. As Smith reveals, economies of black pain and suffering form the backdrop for the staged, scripted, and choreographed afro-paradise that dazzles visitors. The work of grassroots organizers exposes this relationship, exploding illusions and asking unwelcome questions about the impact of state violence performed against the still-marginalized mass of Afro-Brazilians.
“Perhaps,” wrote Ralph Ellison more than seventy years ago, “the zoot suit contains profound political meaning; perhaps the symmetrical frenzy of the Lindy-hop conceals clues to great potential power.” As Ellison noted then, many of our most mundane cultural forms are larger and more important than they appear, taking on great significance and an unexpected depth of meaning. What he saw in the power of the Lindy Hop—the dance that Life magazine once billed as “America’s True National Folk Dance”—would spread from black America to make a lasting impression on white America and offer us a truly compelling means of understanding our culture. But with what hidden implications?
In American Allegory, Black Hawk Hancock offers an embedded and embodied ethnography that situates dance within a larger Chicago landscape of segregated social practices. Delving into two Chicago dance worlds, the Lindy and Steppin’, Hancock uses a combination of participant-observation and interviews to bring to the surface the racial tension that surrounds white use of black cultural forms. Focusing on new forms of appropriation in an era of multiculturalism, Hancock underscores the institutionalization of racial disparities and offers wonderful insights into the intersection of race and culture in America.
For more than half a century before World War II, black South Africans and “American Negroes”—a group that included African Americans and black West Indians—established close institutional and personal relationships that laid the necessary groundwork for the successful South African and American antiapartheid movements. Though African Americans suffered under Jim Crow racial discrimination, oppressed Africans saw African Americans as free people who had risen from slavery to success and were role models and potential liberators.
Many African Americans, regarded initially by the South African government as “honorary whites” exempt from segregation, also saw their activities in South Africa as a divinely ordained mission to establish “Africa for Africans,” liberated from European empires. The Jamaican-born Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association, the largest black-led movement with two million members and supporters in forty-three countries at its height in the early 1920s, was the most anticipated source of liberation. Though these liberation prophecies went unfulfilled, black South Africans continued to view African Americans as inspirational models and as critical partners in the global antiapartheid struggle.
The Americans Are Coming! is a rare case study that places African history and American history in a global context and centers Africa in African Diaspora studies.
From 1952 to 1981, South Africa’s apartheid government ran an art school for the training of African art teachers at Indaleni, in what is today KwaZulu-Natal. The Art of Life in South Africa is the story of the students, teachers, art, and politics that circulated through a small school, housed in a remote former mission station. It is the story of a community that made its way through the travails of white supremacist South Africa and demonstrates how the art students and teachers made together became the art of their lives.
Daniel Magaziner radically reframes apartheid-era South African history. Against the dominant narrative of apartheid oppression and black resistance, as well as recent scholarship that explores violence, criminality, and the hopeless entanglements of the apartheid state, this book focuses instead on a small group’s efforts to fashion more fulfilling lives for its members and their community through the ironic medium of the apartheid-era school.
There is no book like this in South African historiography. Lushly illustrated and poetically written, it gives us fully formed lives that offer remarkable insights into the now clichéd experience of black life under segregation and apartheid.
Although he never lived in Harlem, Chester Himes commented that he experienced “a sort of pure homesickness” while creating the Harlem-set detective novels from his self-imposed exile in Paris. Through writing, Himes constructed an imaginary home informed both by nostalgia for a community he never knew and a critique of the racism he left behind in the United States. Half a century later, Michelle Cliff wrote about her native Jamaica from the United States, articulating a positive Caribbean feminism that at the same time acknowledged Jamaica’s homophobia and color prejudice.
In At Home in Diaspora, Wendy Walters investigates the work of Himes, Cliff, and three other twentieth-century black international writers—Caryl Phillips, Simon Njami, and Richard Wright—who have lived in and written from countries they do not call home. Unlike other authors in exile, those of the African diaspora are doubly displaced, first by the discrimination they faced at home and again by their life abroad. Throughout, Walters suggests that in the absence of a recoverable land of origin, the idea of diaspora comes to represent a home that is not singular or exclusionary. In this way, writing in exile is much more than a literary performance; it is a profound political act.
Wendy W. Walters is assistant professor of literature at Emerson College.
Sailing the tide of a tumultuous era of Atlantic revolutions, a remarkable group of African-born and African-descended individuals transformed themselves from slaves into active agents of their lives and times. Through prodigious archival research, Jane Landers radically alters our vision of the breadth and extent of the Age of Revolution, and our understanding of its actors.